Pictured: Justin Fields. Courtesy of the Associated Press.
By: Robbie Stratakos
The Big Ten is playing college football this season with a preliminary Oct. 24 start date. Such a revival allows quarterbacks Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Tanner Morgan (Minnesota) to enhance their NFL Draft stock.
Fields was a spectacle in his debut season with the Buckeyes (Fields transferred from Georgia after backing up Jake Fromm in 2018). Throwing for 3,273 yards, 41 touchdowns and just three interceptions while completing 67.2 percent of his passes, he was among the elite passers in the nation. Meanwhile, he ran for 484 yards and 10 touchdowns while playing with a knee injury down the stretch.
Fields showcased the ability to be the modern-day dual-threat quarterback. He threw with efficiency, found success throwing in the pocket and on the run, and flashed quickness. This season he has to quicken his internal clock so he doesn’t develop a false sense of security in the pocket.
Morgan was one of the more underrated players in the 2019 college football season. Throwing for 3,253 yards and 30 touchdowns, he exhibited deep-ball accuracy, helping the Golden Gophers accumulate an overall 11-2 record.
The Minnesota product has some work to do if he aspires to be a day-one draft pick. Morgan can work on taking what the defense gives him, whether it be a short gain on the ground or an underneath pass, and becoming more efficient on short-passing plays.
Let’s consider the fact that Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the likely number-one pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, is three weeks into his team’s respective season, showcasing his dual-threat game and dissecting defenses.
Fields, Morgan and other gunslingers across the nation have been battling to get on the field while the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the Big 12, the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and others journey on with their respective seasons.
These are games that have already taken place, rather than solely being in scheduling like the Big Ten. As teams in said conferences find themselves cancelling games due to COVID-19, who’s to say the Big Ten won’t run into this predicament themselves?
How does an eight-game regular season that runs into mid-December play out? It’s anyone’s guess. From Fields’ and Morgan’s perspective, they get the chance to provide NFL teams with more film. Bigger than that, they get to take the next step in achieving their endgame: becoming reliable quarterbacks at the next level.